At 377 MW, Ivanpah is the world’s single largest solar power plant in the world, as of Aug 2015.

This solar power plant does not have solar panels, but it works on solar thermal based power.

Let me explain. While most solar power plants we know are based on photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight to electricity (that’s why the name photo+voltaic), solar thermal power plants use the heat of sunlight to generate steam which in turn runs a turbine to generate power – similar to what conventional coal power plants do.

Specifically, large solar thermal based power plants such as Ivanpah use a technology called concentrating solar power (CSP), in which sunlight is concentrated many times over, and thus what hits the tubes that contain the heating medium is many times the concentration of normal sunlight. This in turn results in significant temperatures being reached.

See some of the beautiful videos on the Ivanpah, you will be able to understand this a lot better

A detailed explanation of how Ivanpah works

 

Ivanpah – the Facts – from Brightsource Energy, the blokes who built it

 

For the curious, Concentrating Solar Thermal Explained

Ending with a beautiful video that shows steam coming out of the receiver section